x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 23 July 2017

Arab inaction on Syria no longer acceptable

Editorials in regional papers also comment on corruption in Libya and Egypt's military rule.

As the Syrian opposition unites, little options are left for the regime and the Arab states

On Wednesday, the various factions of the Syrian opposition decided to join forces and they chose the Turkish city of Istanbul to make the announcement. On the same day, the Syrian president Bashar Al Assad chose to pay a visit to the ruins of the Bab Amr area in Homs; a visit that was marked by sporadic gunshots.

"It wasn't a coincidence," said the columnist Abdul Rahman Al Rashed in the pan-Arab newspaper Asharq Al Awsat. "Al Assad deliberately chose that time in defiance of the opposition meeting. He wanted to send a message to them and to the world that Bab Amr is his response to the popular mutiny and the continuing uprising against his authority."

Both sides to the struggle, the regime and the opposition, decided to race against the Arab Summit in Baghdad, which listed the Syrian crisis at the top of its agenda, in a bid to impose their respective positions. The positions are now loud and clear.

"With the Istanbul meeting, the Arabs have no more justification for their inactiveness. They can no longer pretext that the opposition is divided. It is true that it is a collection of a variety of groups and ideologies, but they are all united around their rejection of the regime and their insistence to bring it down," he said.

On his part, with his public appearance in the neighbourhood he recently demolished, Mr Al Assad reaffirmed his decision to hang on to authority at any cost.

Whether the Arab League got the message or not, its Baghdad summit would still be inconsequential. No decisive stances are expected to come out of it, especially that the summit this year is chaired by Iraq, the close ally of the Assad regime.

On the ground, despite the massive damage that the regime was able to cause in rebel areas and despite its victory in the last round of battles, it can't claim that it succeeded in annihilating the revolution.

"We are witnessing a race between the opposition and Mr Al Assad. The first with the support of most Arab peoples and the second with the support of the Arab League, Iran and Russia," added the writer. "The Arab League and its secretary general Rabih Al Arabi as well as its special envoy Kofi Annan are still trying to promote Al Arabi's solution that provides for Al Assad's stay in power with a minimal participation of the opposition in a few government portfolios."

But, the Syrian people managed to prove that the decision is still in their hands. One year into the uprising, despite the violence of the regime and the meagreness of the fighters' ammunitions, the protests didn't dwindle and the rebels didn't stop the fight. Now that the opposition is united, there's nothing much that anyone else can do other than morally siding with the Syrian people or with the regime.

Libya's new reality is bleaker than ever

In a recent security conference in Brussels, the former Libyan Prime Minister Mahmoud Jibril delivered a harsh speech in which he blamed the western states that sent their aircrafts and warships to Libya to assist in ousting the former regime only to forsake Libya later unmindful of the security collapse throughout the country.

In comment, in its Thursday editorial, the London-based daily Al Quds Al Arabi said: "Dr Jibril and his colleagues in the National Transitional Council criticised this newspaper when it first warned of the havoc that was about to grip Libya and turn it into a failed state. Our prediction was based on our deep knowledge of the country and the nature of its tribal and demographic map as well as the fabricated differences between its various parts."

The bloody clashes in the country's south that lasted for more than a week are the most recent of Libya's ever-growing problems. The NTC is too weak to control security and fulfil its promises of disarming the various factions, namely the radical Islamist militias. At the same time, the new government is incapable of establishing state institutions especially that most of its ministers weren't appointed for their competences but rather for their tribal and regional affiliations.

"Post-revolution Libya is more corrupt than it ever was under the former regime," said the paper.

Is the West pushing for amnesty for Scaf?

Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood and a number of Arab governments have entered a war of nerves that may eventually decide the fate of the members of the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (Scaf) that has been running the Egyptian state for more than a year since the fall of the Mubarak regime, said the columnist Mazen Hammad in the Qatari newspaper Al Watan.

The West is urging the Egyptian authorities to look into granting Scaf members immunity from accountability and prosecution. The military rule has been tarnished by bloody clashes between the rebels and security forces and the council is accused of ordering the shooting of unarmed civilian protesters.

"It is said that the West is secretly pressuring the Muslim Brotherhood to agree to a deal guaranteeing the military's safe exit in exchange for a peaceful transition to democracy," said the writer.

Scaf didn't fulfil its promises of a swift transition to civilian rule. It continued to stall and attack peaceful protesters, which resulted in the death of more than 100 civilians. The ruling generals fear that they would become easy targets as soon as they leave power.





* Digest compiled by Racha Makarem